Adderall Side Effects

While Adderall can be helpful, it can also cause an array of short-term and long-term side effects.

Stimulant therapy is a common and effective treatment for ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Stimulants medications, including Adderall, can boost dopamine levels and reduce many classic symptoms of ADHD such as poor attention span/focus, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

These medications may also be used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder known for causing unexpected daytime drowsiness. While Adderall can be helpful for these issues, it can also cause an array of short-term and long-term side effects.

Short-Term/Common Side Effects Of Adderall Use

Adderall is a brand-name medication containing the schedule II controlled substances Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is available in two formulations, Adderall and Adderall XR (extended release).

When swallowed, these medications are released in the digestive tract and then absorbed into the bloodstream.

From there, they travel to the brain, binding to norepinephrine and dopamine receptors and boosting neurochemical activity as well as neurotransmitter activity across the central nervous system.

This causes a range of effects on the body, which at therapeutic doses include:

  • increased alertness
  • increased concentration and mental clarity
  • increased initiative and motivation
  • feelings of self-confidence and sociability
  • mild mood swings (elated mood that may transition to a mildly depressed mood)
  • increased energy
  • loss of appetite
  • changes in sex drive and sexual function
  • insomnia or wakefulness
  • muscle twitching

Long-Term Effects Of Adderall Use

Adderall is considered safe and effective for use by adult, adolescent, and pediatric patients, and has been approved by the FDA for long-term use in the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy.

In fact, rather than causing harmful side effects, continuous therapeutic stimulant therapy in children with ADHD has been shown, in a majority of those studied, to improve:

  • brain abnormalities
  • mental functioning
  • social development
  • nervous system development
  • IQ
  • memory function
  • long-term risk of developing a substance use disorder
  • overall quality of life

However, there is evidence that central nervous system stimulants may slow down growth in children, with the effect increasing along with dose. Children taking prescription stimulants should be regularly monitored by healthcare professionals to spot and correct this if it does occur.

Psychotic symptoms may also, in rare cases, develop as a result of long-term stimulant growth.

Short-Term Side-Effects Of Adderall Abuse

Around 4-5% of Americans are estimated to have ADHD, which means that stimulant medications like Adderall (dextroamphetamine), Ritalin (methylphenidate), Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine), Concerta (methylphenidate), Evekeo (amphetamine sulfate), and others are widely available and are often diverted for different types of drug abuse.

This same prevalence means that many underestimate how dangerous and harmful an ADHD medication can potentially be.

At higher doses, all the short-term, energy-increasing effects of Adderall use (listed above) become far more pronounced, along with additional serious side effects including:

  • euphoria
  • dizziness
  • sweating
  • racing thoughts
  • impaired inhibition and judgment
  • chest pain
  • increased blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate
  • dry mouth, nausea, and/or vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • constipation
  • difficulty urinating
  • teeth grinding
  • aggressive behavior
  • blurred vision
  • feelings of impatience, anxiety, or panic

In rare cases, improper Adderall use has been known to trigger dangerous seizures or amphetamine psychosis, a condition in which a person loses touch with reality, experiencing delusions and hallucinations.

Long-Term Side Effects Of Adderall Abuse

Adderall is often abused by high school and college students both to get high and for perceived benefits to concentration, energy, or weight loss.

If taken improperly over a long period of time, Adderall can cause or contribute to a wide variety of different health problems, including:

  • dependence and addiction (substance use disorder)
  • mood swings
  • liver damage
  • unhealthy weight loss
  • sexual dysfunction
  • hair loss
  • heart problems and symptoms of heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • mental health effects including anxiety, paranoia, and depression (especially in those with pre-existing conditions like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia)

Adderall Overdose

An overdose is considered to be any dose of a substance that is greater than what is safe, and the effects of a drug overdose can range from temporary discomfort to permanent disability or death.

While rare, Adderall can cause overdose if misused in high doses or if mixed with other substances, especially other powerful stimulants.

Modifying Adderall by crushing tablets for faster oral absorption, snorting, or injection (mixed with water) also greatly increases this risk.

Adderall overdose effects can include:

  • panic attacks
  • aggressive behavior
  • loss of consciousness
  • muscle tissue breakdown
  • seizures
  • hallucinations
  • sudden death due to heart attack or stroke

Adderall Drug Interactions & Cautions

Due to the risk of cardiovascular side effects and other interactions, Adderall should not be taken with certain other over-the-counter supplements or illicit/prescription drugs including:

  • MAO inhibitors like isocarboxazid, tranylcypromine, and others
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • drugs that can cause serotonin syndrome, including MDMA, St. John’s wort, and both SSRI and SNRI antidepressants

You should also not take Adderall if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past, or if you have certain medical conditions including heart disease, hypertension, glaucoma, or overactive thyroid.

If you or a loved one struggles with Adderall addiction or any other form of substance abuse, please contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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